A coordinated campaign by fundamentalist Islamic groups has led to Facebook shutting down a number of Arabic atheist pages.
According to this report, the social media platform has removed more than 16 Arabic-speaking atheist pages due to “violations” of its “Community Standards”.
The closure has left more than 100,000 atheists in Muslim dominant countries without a platform to share with other non-religious people.
Facebook has an automated system based on the number of complaints to decide whether to remove a page or group.
The social media platform does not usually monitor reports of violations of Community Standards as they will vary around the world. Instead the site makes an automatic decision based on the number of complaints. If a post or groups gets enough reports of violations, Facebook will shut down the content and delete it.
This leaves vulnerable groups open to being targeted by so-called “cyber jihadists” who urge their large following to flood Facebook with complaints.
It is part of a wider online campaign in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to quell expressions of atheism or anything other than the socially conservative Islamic norm. But the abuse is not just online.
The AA-MENA campaign has tracked the progress of Arabic-speaking atheist groups and pages and frequently criticises Facebook’s approach to freedom of speech.
The group has three goals for its campaign; reactivate the pages, convince Facebook to respect the rights of irreligious people in the MENA region and; convince Facebook to reform its procedures so a just evaluation is made of any alleged violation of Community Standards.
Maryam Namazie, above, spokeswoman for the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and a newly-appointed columnist for the Freethinker, tweeted she had been blocked by Facebook after she shared an ex-Muslim’s page that depicted Zuckerberg as an ally of ISIS.
Meanwhile, it is reported here that Facebook has banned the page of German gay magazine Gaystream after they published an article critical of Islam in the wake of the Orlando massacre.
Journalist and editor-in-chief of Gaystream, David Berger, claimed that the site had blocked the magazine’s page because the article sharply criticised Green party activists who “played down the causes of the attack.”
Berger claims that not only was the Facebook page deactivated, but his personal account was also shut down for 30 days after he posted an article he had written entitled “Cologne professional Homos scale new stage of Islam-masochism.”
In the article, he heavily criticised the Cologne Gay Museum director Dr Brigit Bosold who told German media she was more afraid of straight white men than Islamic radicals and migrants.
The Pink Humanist magazine has also run into a spot of bother. A press release sent to Euro-Queer, a list “devoted to communication among European LGBT activists, organisations and idividuals” was rejected this week by the organisation. The press release mentioned an article I wrote about Islam for the latest edition of the magazine. In rejecting it, Euro-Queer wrote:
Posting of your message titled “The latest issue of The Pink Humanist” has been rejected by the list moderator.
The moderator gave the following reason for rejecting your request: ‘Your message was deemed inappropriate by the moderator’.
Hat tip: Trevor Blake (Gaystream report)